Cipla, Roche turn partners for the first time to sell cancer drugs

Swiss Drugmaker Roche. Photo: Reuters
Cipla and Roche which fought a bitter legal battle over patent infringement of the latter's lung cancer drug Tarceva have turned partners for the first time. 

On Tuesday, the Swiss pharma giant Roche announced that it had tied up with Cipla to distribute its rheumatoid arthritis drug Actemra and anti cancer drug Avastin. Currently, Roche sells both the products in India and "through this partnership the companies will leverage their expertise to increase access to these innovative medicines for patients in India."

The tie up allows Roche to grow its market share as local local drug makers have launched copies of its drugs. It will enable Cipla to grow its domestic revenue and follows similar such tie ups it has inked with multi national companies like Novartis and Johnson & Johnson.

Cipla and Roche settled patent dispute last year. Cipla withdrew its petition in Supreme Court against in the matter.

Lara Bezerra, Managing Director – Roche Pharma India said: “This partnership will significantly advance our efforts to expand the reach of, and improve access to, our innovative medicines. This will also enable us at Roche to focus on bringing new, transformative medicines to patients in India. As Roche, we will continue to collaborate with various stakeholders to help transform healthcare in India.”

Avastin which is brand name of biologic drug Bevacizumab was introduced in India in 2005. It is a blockbuster drug for Roche and earned over $ 7 billion for the drug maker two years ago. Local drug makers Intas, Zydus Cadila, Hetero and Reliance LifeSciences sell copies of Bevacizumab in the domestic market.

Cipla's managing director Umang Vohra said the prevalence of cancer and rheumatoid arthritis is widely spread across India and Cipla can contribute to provide broader access to innovative medicines.

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